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tv   Democracy Now Special  LINKTV  October 30, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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welcome to another session of beliefs and believers. we're of course in the midst of talking about islam and asking islam to help us understand doctrine and ethics and social dimension. and in this class- i keep saying we have extraordinary classes, but indeed we do today- we're going to look at the african-american muslim movement, sometimes called the black muslim movement, nation of islam. and we're just absolutely thrilled- later in this class, we have imam wd mohammed, who will come in and handle not just questions about african-american muslim movement, but islam in
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general, so that's really something to look forward to. what i wanted to do was to set this up, if we could go to the graphics, to look at one of our key themes. now, not just speaking about the nation of islam here, we're speaking about islam and religion in general, as is our way in this class, but we think about identity and relationship. well, what if we talked about identity and self-esteem and relationship as empowerment? that's what i think we're seeing when we're talking about the african-american muslim movement. in other words, identity is self-esteem- a person must feel good about themselves- and relationship is about empowerment. and i'm- you know, this is not the gospel truth here, as always- i'm working with some ideas that we're familiar with, so we can try to make sense of this powerful doctrinal statement. so when we look at the nation of islam, as we have here on the graphic, we can see it as a
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reinterpreretation of traditionl islamic or muslim doctrine, in order to meet ethical challenges in a society that is perceived to be racist by african-americans. see where i'm headed with this? that we take traditional muslim doctrines and we reinterpret it in order to raise up self-esteem- that is, identity- and raise up relationship, which is empowerment, and this may be the key behind it. well, of course, i'll ask our experts to comment on that, but it's how i try to make sense of it in my own world. so what we see with nation of islam is a new ethnoreligious identity for african-american believers- something that- again, ethno meaning ethnic religious identity- that in a racist society, in a society that is built on oppression, elijah muhammad raises them up, gives them a new sense of empowerment and a new sense of
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self-esteem, and in doing so, you know, takes the doctrinal dimension of islam, and again, reinterprets it to meet those kinds of needs, to meet that function, that necessary function that they have. the goal- as we have on the graphic- is remaking the social dimension according to this new ethnoreligious identity. in other words, african-americans are no longer second-class citizens. in some of the original teachings of elijah muhammad, he flips everything on its head and says the caucasian race is actually an evil, demonic race, and that it's the african-americans, it's the blacks that are going to rise up and bring peace and justice into the world, so we see it turned on its head. now a couple of key players that we want to look at, wallace d. fard, a number of different names- this is one of the more common ones i had- the original first prophet of the black muslim movement, sometimes
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described as a mysterious peddler. but his key- he's an inspired gentleman- he understands this and begins this quest towards self-esteem and empowerment. now of course, a person- i'm sure you're probably familiar with elijah muhammad. he, of course, is taught by fard and becomes the great leader, and is the founder of nation of islam- a very, very charismatic leader. and we're going to have an interview with abdus salam. and in fact, as we move through these, of course, malcolm x is probably the most famous figure in the movement- very articulate, very powerful; not too long ago, we had a movie made of his life. and you know, if you had any chance to see malcolm x live or you've seen him on video tape, you know what i'm talking about, about self-esteem and empowerment- in other words, those fundamental religious impulse ideas of identity- who we are- relationship- how we get along
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in the world- well, here we have, well, someone like a malcolm x who rearticulates that in a way that is so moving to african-americans who have been marginalized, who have been cut out of the mainstream, who have been victims of racism in this culture. this is one of those wonderful serendipitous events, but we have wd mohammed, elijah muhammad's son, who will be on here, and momentarily, after we hear one of the roll-ins, he's going to come and be our guest, and he can take your wonderful questions and we can learn more than certainly you ever could listening to my theoretical jargon on it. but nevertheless, wd mohammed took some issue with his father. the exclusiveness in elijah muhammad's original teachings. as abdus salam, in our interview will see, he also, over time, began to question the exclusivity in the original
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teachings of elijah muhammad that called for a separating of african-american peoples from caucasian peoples. of course, islam, our true- or let's say the traditional islamic doctrine is very inclusive- it calls for the equality of all people, justice for all peoples, and so we'll see later wd mohammed wrote- you know, he can certainly speak for himself- but he takes that role, learned the arabic, and developed the american muslim mission that is much more inclusive- in other, caucasians can go to it- originally not so within the movement. and of course, louis farrakhan- certainly you've heard of louis farrakhan- he, like a, you know, a lightning rod, he attracts negative attention from the media because he's a controversial and powerful figure, and he holds to elijah muhammad's teaching of a separate nation of islam, and he keeps to the quest here, at least to put it in my terms,
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of empowering african-americans and raising their self-esteem so that they can take care of themselves. now this gets mixed in with a variety of islamic traditions, islamic rituals- it's a wide-open question. one in this class, we've talked about this so many times, about the question of religious truth versus the question of religious power, whether one believes that teachings of the nation of islam are traditional islamic doctrine or they waiver from that. nevertheless, the power, the impact on the community is astounding. in fact, sometimes- people always say have you ever had any negative experiences in the classroom teaching- you know, when you teach a controversial subject. and remarkably- don't ask me why, but very, very few- but the most negative i ever had was on this issue. it was- she was a freshman. i let her into what was
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actually my 101 class. it was a rather dumb mistake- i decided to have a section of 265 students- can you imagine that?- with no teaching assistants. but i figured, well, i'll try it- you know, the more, the merrier. whoo! well, anyway, we got this huge hall of people, and i showed- i was showing- in the previous class, we saw dr. assi, a traditional- 900 million muslims around the world would look at that noon prayer service and say, "uh-huh. yeah. that's traditional islam; that's what's going on there." well, i'm showing that in class- i'm in the middle of this. you know, dr. assi's doing his nice thing and i'm reading the qur'an and all that, and this woman jumps up on her seat- she's kind of in the front row and she'd been giving me a hard time the whole semester- she jumps up on her seat and screams to the rest of the class, "class! this man is tricking you! this is not the true islam! the true islam is the islam of louis farrakhan!" and well, the class is going ... they're yelling stuff, people
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are starting to yell, things are getting real negative. and i kind of look up at the clock and say, "can i get out of this one?" but i turned it around- i turned it around. i got up- i happened to have a mic there- and i said, "now class, you see the power of doctrine and the power of ethics- belief and behavior right here?" and fortunately, the period ended and we got out of there. but you know, i got to talking to her, i called her on the phone after class. several students came up and said, "you handled that well, because it could have been, you know, quite a negative experience." but from her perspective, being a young person, true islam was the teaching of louis farrakhan, and she took issue with the standard islamic ritual of the noon prayer. i got to know her throughout the rest of her four years there, and she never quite said, "well, i'm kind of sorry for that," but she came around and realized that there was a wider world. so we have to realize here when
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we're talking about nation of islam that we're talking about peoples who believe that they are incorporating and practicing the true islam- and within the context of the united states, given the issues of slavery, given the issues of even- you know, if there's anything worse than slavery- the institutionalized racism that followed that up post-civil war, it's understandable that you would see this kind of need for self-esteem and empowerment. anyway, enough said on my end. we have a remarkable video piece. abdus salam was a dentist, joined the- with elijah muhammad in i think 1957, was there through everything, a friend of malcolm x, current friend of louis farrakhan, associate of wd mohammed. but when we ran across abdus salam, he just recently
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had begun to back away from the more exclusive attitudes within nation of islam, and he'd joined an al-fatihah mosque and was seeing islam in a much more inclusive way. nevertheless, he's very articulate in speaking about the early dynamics in the movement that called for a reinterpretation of islamic doctrine. and people say, "well, why islam? why not christianity?" well, as dr. salam so eloquently put it in another interview, you know, christianity was the religion of his oppressors. he was a young christian boy in a southern town and he'd go to church on sunday and the churches are segregated, and so he walks into the black church and looks up on the wall and there's this huge picture of a caucasian jesus that says, "my lord and savior, jesus christ." but you know, that lord and savior looked like the people that were oppressing him and wouldn't let him go
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to his church. and he had this funny line that, "you know, i don't know, if i'm christian and we die and go to heaven, you know, the white folk are going to have us sweeping the golden streets." you know, it's that kind of an idea, where he struggled with the christianity that he saw as a religio-political system of his oppressors. so over time- and islam also because many of the africans who came here as slaves already were muslims, so we have that connection. nevertheless, what we're seeing in nation of islam and the african-american muslim movement is this quest for empowerment and self-esteem. so let's let abdus salam speak to us about his experience in nation of islam and thereafter. [chanting and praying]
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>> i knew elijah muhammad very well, and i'm grateful for having the opportunity to know him so well and so long. i came in to islam in 1957, and that's when i flew to chicago and i met him personally during that time. and from 1957 until the time he passed in 1975, i could say i was probably a fairly intimate associate of his, if there can be any such thing. he loved all of us, but having been the first professional person to openly accept islam at that time, i had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with him, and learn many, many things from him. in fact, when i came to chicago in 1970, for nine months straight, each evening i had dinner with the honorable elijah muhammad- it was a great pleasure
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and a thing i'll never forget. the theology of the honorable elijah muhammad i considered to have been flawed, particularly after i came into a better understanding of islam, by the qur'an being put before us on an ongoing definite basis by muhammad. and i saw islam of those days- i'm still using the term islam- but really, i considered the time of the honorable elijah muhammad-- the teachings of the honorable elijah muhammad, that he labeled islam- and it depended primarily on the strength, the enthusiasm, the love, the dedication of one man, and that was elijah muhammad. and the honorable elijah muhammad himself developed that role, he developed that nation, he developed that community- that will always stand in history, as far as i'm concerned. i have seen no parallel, certainly, in my lifetime or in anything that i've read, based on what he was able to do with us as african-american people. but it was very narrow.
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it didn't include all of our- all peoples- and islam definitely includes all peoples. and the honorable elijah muhammad himself said, "i'm not really teaching you the religion- that will come later." it was a kind of introduction to it. and so when he introduced us to the name of - ...allah, introduced us to muhammad, after his passing and a broader level of understanding came along, those of us who were seeking god and have always been seeking him in what we consider to be the better form, it was very easy to make the transition. islam is so broad, so encompassing- you never stop learning, you never stop growing. it's very exciting. under the honorable elijah muhammad, caucasians were not allowed to attend the services. but as we've already discussed, under the honorable elijah muhammad, it was a very narrow view of what we labeled islam, but that was truly islam insofar
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as i'm concerned in the sect. and al-islam, as you heard the imam say today, it necessarily encompasses all people, all places, anywhere, anytime- there's no such thing as an ethnicity insofar as the muslim is concerned. so i don't quite understand why yet- i have some idea- why caucasians, by and large, don't flock to islam, but there are certainly substantial numbers of caucasians muslims in this country. i have found, being a follower of prophet muhammad's, when we say [arabic term] that means, "may the peace and blessings of allah be upon him," we are ever-thankful to god for giving us the prophet muhammad. it has been exceptionally exciting for me, and i've found, by having left christianity, i found in leaving christianity, i found no contradictions
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in al-islam. i happen to be by nature a professional man, as you know, so i'm taught to be scientific in my approach, i'm taught to be research in my approach, i'm taught to be deep in my approach. and the further you go into islam, the better it sustains your levels of understanding- the more you see it encompasses everything that we know and everything we will come into the knowledge of. so i find it a very exciting way of life, and there are no distinctions between my political life, my religious life, my civic life, my educational life- islam encompasses it all- and i don't have to make these distinctions that america forces us to make sometimes, or religion forces us to make. islam is a full way of life. we call it a religion, but the holy qur'an says, "we gave you islam as a religion, simply so you'll have some comparative level in which to put it." but actually, it's the very nature in which i was created. and when i started to learn about the nature in which i was created- and that happens to encompass the label of al-islam-
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it makes it even more exciting for us. i've enjoyed every moment of it, and i pray allah that i will die a muslim- every muslim does. >> dr. salam, let me just pick up quickly, and then we'll open it up to some questions, but there's a real sense in your wonderful talk here and in what we're understanding about islam of real inclusiveness- that it is all peoples. i'm sure there's some questions in mind in the class. i know you're also an associate of and know fairly well minister louis farrakhan- you already mentioned him before. there's a lot of misunderstandings about islam, and one is that islam, at least in the black experience, is pulling back and away from this inclusiveness. can you help us out in understanding what is going on with the minister farrakhan and how that relates to your particular mosque? >> yeah, well, i figured that would come up, particularly in this time- he's been really in front of the news right now.
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in fact, i spoke of him this morning, and i've known minister farrakhan at least 30 years, so having that personal knowledge of him, i love him as an individual, and i certainly think i understand where he's coming from- i've been deeply based in that myself. and let me just make an aside a moment and thank those who did this video. i think i told david when i saw it, "i don't remember saying any of that." you know, you really never see yourself in that context. is that me? i mean- but i appreciated it. i enjoyed that guy. >> it happens to me all the time. >> and i'm thankful for the way you did it, and i think that's exceptionally important because whoever did that had to make some choices out of the substantial amount of filming that was did. and there wasn't a ghost that made the choice- it wasn't someone without opinions that made the choice. it wasn't someone without prejudices, without levels of understanding that made the choice.
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someone made the choice, and that choice was made not in a vacuum, but based on who they were. so i'm very thankful that a person who seems to be well based came up with that. that relates to what we said here, john, because i think it was monday morning that minister farrakhan was on a cbs morning show, and i've warned him to some extent- i won't use that term, "warn"- it's the conversations we had, "be careful of some of these things," because that's a short segment, and when you're as controversial as minister farrakhan is, you're not going to have the chance to explore very much. and the media has this way of dealing with where they're coming from, the point that they want to make- they have to satisfy their advertisers- so they go at you in a particular way. and i was very much disturbed, because they take this phrase that they keep chasing minister farrakhan down on about hitler and the jews, and they took a phrase and says-
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made a quotation directly from this tape- where he says, "hitler was a great man," and cut it right there. but what he said after that made all the difference in the world! i mean ,the context out of which he was coming made all the difference in the world in terms of what he was trying to say! so why should they do that? i mean, why should they- whoever was involved in that- who know- the media knows how important context is, they know how important it is to develop a better framework- language being what it is, no matter how much i say here, you know, you have to go through all of these words that i'm using and have some reference to what i'm using- why should they do that? i don't think you can ignore that. so as i say, personally, knowing minister farrakhan and knowing where i think his heart is- although i certainly have some theological differences with him- i'm concerned that the muslims, the so-called black
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muslims, the whole context out of which we came is being further distorted by focusing on some things that minister farrakhan said- i won't say in the heat of battle- but in a frame where he was trying to make some points, and people honed in and focused on the those points to try and further divide us, and further distort islam as i think it should be focused to all people. so, in specifics, minister farrakhan is following substantially what he considers to be the teachings of the honorable elijah muhammad. i'm personally convinced that he's going to be moving into an arena that's going to bring us in the general muslim world, if i may say that- i don't like to use the term immigrant muslims or orthodox muslims, because that's divisionary too- but i use it for a reference so you know what i'm talking about, because we do have an islam base that's slightly different. i know well i came out
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of the teachings of the elijah muhammad, but i think we're going to come closer and closer together. but america represents a specific circumstance for the african-american or the black people- this is a different world. i don't care how much the muslim came to us to bring us islam, or al-islam, as it's sometimes called, i have a great american for the people of the american islamic college, dr. assi, at the basul. brilliant people, but they could have stood in front of us as african-americans all day, all week, speaking about the holy qur'an, speaking about the prophet, but if they didn't put it in the context out of which we came as african-americans, we never would have said, [isalm phrase]. so there's a specific context out of which the honorable elijah muhammad came that pointed us in the direction of islam, and obviously, many don't understand that, because no matter how much i talk to you, as a caucasian or a white
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person, whichever phrase you prefer, there's a world in which you function and a world in which i function that's just different, particularly in america- that's just a fact. and so the relevancy that i needed and we needed as a people, to find what we considered to be our original base, because you know, when we came here, we didn't come here as christians- and we didn't come here, we were brought here- as christians, had to find some relevance for us, and the honorable elijah muhammad focused on that, and he started pushing us in that direction. and so i see and hear minister farrakhan saying, "listen, we're not free yet. we accepted islam, but there's still some major problems we have in this country as african-americans that we have to address," and i'm working with him to some aspect of putting islam in a basic framework whereby it can have
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a broader islamic context. >> well, we're absolutely thrilled to have imam wd mohammed here with us, and i can't tell you, class, what an honor this is, and we've very, very happy to have you here. let me- you have so many good questions that i- let me just start it off by asking you for any comments you might have on abdus salam's very eloquent speech. i know you know him well. >> yes. well, i would say that his description of the nation of islam's religion is accurate and clear- very clear. looking myself back at what that was when i was there, when i was in it, and very much a part of it, i don't see it as islam anymore, because now i know what islam is. i see it as the teachings of his teacher, wd farad.
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now, this dr.- i know his name very well, but i can't fully- >> salam? >> salam. >> yeah, abdus salam, yeah. >> - dr. salam, and he sees the honorable elijah muhammad as the nation of islam. he came in, in 1957, and they had been in existence for many years before salam became part of it- it started in around 1931 in detroit, michigan, in the slums, the black neighborhoods, slums of detroit, michigan, and it was started by, as you know, you said, wallace d. farad- you're aware of that in our conversation off the screen, off the program, you said you were aware of wallace d. farad, you say, or wd farad was the teacher. and i see those teachings as the teachings of that man. but, as i say, he said the teachings of elijah muhammad. that mean was gone after three years, so i can understand those
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who came later, like dr. salam, seeing the teachings as the teachings of my father. yeah. and another thing that he was asked about farrakhan, he gave his explanations and everything, but to me, he was trying to escape the question. >> probably to serve me well. >> but i think he did a very good job of describing what was there, and what is now. >> you know, that's- the fascinating point, in terms of our class, and you can help us out with this- is the teachings that came through your father. by the way, you're aware of that, that elijah muhammad is his father. were the teachings more of a political refuge against racism in society, and then
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did he think the islam would come later? how do you see that? >> it was all of that. but most importantly, for me, as i understand it, the teachings of islam, of the nation of islam, was a creation intended to entertain and to hold as a strong magnet, a very strong magnet, to hold the interest of blacks that felt left out of america and felt there was no way into america for them, to hold those people until their level of learning came up, and they got more familiar with the realities of the world. those people are ghetto, they only knew the ghetto- you could have told them anything. and i was told, i heard- i didn't read it myself, but i heard- that in some of the writings on slave traffic,
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the trade, slave trade, that it was mentioned that some of the slaves were told- to get them to feel at ease- they were told that where they were being taken, the streets were paved with gold. yes, i heard that that happened. well, farad did that. i guess he read that and he told us that in mecca, the streets were paved with gold. he said, "there are mansions there, built for you already, and they're waiting for you." and when i went there, i saw rocks and sand. you know, that was before aramco pulled out, you know, and turned over everything to the saudis, the kingdom of saudi arabia. so i saw rocks and sand- i didn't see any streets paved with gold; there was no golden fountains in the hotels or anything. now there are, but- >> yeah, i'll say. fire away, janet. >> is that part of what helped change your mind and increase your understanding was the fact that you saw rocks and sand instead of the- >> no. my father was disappointed. i expected- by that time, i was old enough and really informed
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of what the world looked like enough to not to be disappointed. my father was disappointed. before he went to saudi arabia- and he made umrah, the lesser pilgrimage. he made umrah, where you go by yourself, not with all the muslims- the annual pilgrimage. and he made the lesser pilgrimage to mecca, he went to pakistan, he went to egypt. and most disappointing for him was what he saw in saudi arabia. he expected a beautiful place, you know, the best place on earth, and when he got there, it was just the opposite. as far as physical conditions, it might have been almost the worst place on earth, you know. and he came back and he stopped, he changed his emphasis from religion to business, in economics- that's how disappointed he was. and he told us that we can't look to go there; he said we have to find our life right here in america. he said that everything we need,
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we can have it right here in america. so he changed his direction for us, he changed his vision for the future. >> you know, i wanted to run this by you. i don't know if you had a chance- the way i've spoken about it, and we had some notes here, is when we speak about religion, we talk about two very fundamental things, and one is identity- you know, who you are- and one is your relationship with god or with other people. and to try to make sense of elijah muhammad's teaching of nation of islam, i've talked about it in terms of identity being self-esteem and relationship as being empowerment, and that's what african-americans needed because of being marginalized, being pushed aside. does that make any sense? >> well, it comes home very clearly to me. >> yeah. i'm saved! >> yeah, that's what it was all about. it was all about getting us to feel better about ourselves, putting more value on ourselves
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as human beings in the human family, and finding new relationships with the blacks as muslims. now, in this new idea, what islam is, or what a muslim is, you know, and that made us feel powerful. and the more numbers we got, the more powerful we felt, and after a while, we felt too powerful- we felt more powerful than we really were, and we were doing things that caused trouble in the society of america. >> oh, fire away, virginia. >> my question will be about the children. do you find that taking the children young and giving them your faith that they in turn will be good examples as they grow and in turn help you convince other people? i mean, to me, that's such a resource, to be able to have faithful children to your belief. >> yes, i do. yes, i do. i believe- i'm a sincere
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believer in god and in religion. if they not just teach, invite the children to be like them, but if they live the life of their religion with their children, before their children, and share knowledge with them, but the most important thing is that they live the life of a believer, i think that that helps the child to survive the troubles that we are going to face in this world. >> good question. chris, fire away, and then susanna. >> as an african-american in today's society, what is the refocusing of your goal, the social goal of you, and how does that differ from the nation of islam, or are they together, and could you speak a little bit about that? >> yes. well, i agree with dr. salam, that they are now different worlds.
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i don't believe that we- i know the old structure of racism is gone, but there are still individuals who live- think the way they think and live the way they live, and have their opinions. and we still get together with each other, and we live differently, and we are different, and that's what many of us perhaps don't want to admit- we are different. we're humanly the same in human identity, but when it comes to our sensitivities, our emotions, etc., we have the sensitivities and the emotions and the mentality and thinking of our people more than any other people, and that's for every people- for every people. so we are different, and we do kind of live in different worlds. and as far as the perception
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of reality, i think african-americans and most people in modern civilization have a long ways to go before they perceive reality in the right way that will permit them to have the kind of brotherhood that we all hope for in these great religions of christianity, judaism, islam, etc. before we can have that real brotherhood, that feeling of love for my fellow human being, i think we have to grow up and mature a lot when it comes to perceiving the realities that we think we know already, you know. i'm talking about our nation. the way i perceive our nation, i think, is very healthy for me, and i wish all african-americans could perceive this america the way i perceive it, but they don't. and the many white americans that i have become acquainted with perceive this nation as not the way that i think would give me a good life and my children a
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good life if i passed those feelings on to my children. so american people, in my opinion- and not only the way we perceive america, the way we look at human beings, too, human life and everything, i think we are a society of people that are far advanced when it comes to science and technology, and even the ability to socialize with each other- we are more socially mature than most people that i meet outside of america. but i think we are far behind our advancement in technoscience and technology when it comes to social maturity- perceiving what society should be, what a human being is. i think we have exaggerations, some of us, of what a human being is and what we should expect of a human being- exaggerations- and some of us poorly estimate the value of human beings. so we are not- to me, we are not the greatest society when it
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comes to social maturity. >> you know, that's one of the problems we've wrestled with in this class over and over again, because we hear such beautiful statements of love and caring and equality and justice coming from deeply religious people, and it's like you say, you know, somehow we haven't matured to a level that even respects the religions we profess. i'm just curious, in terms of your understanding of islam, how does that, in your own life, lend itself to making us better- better human beings? >> well, i don't want to compare my religion with another religion, you know. >> i guess more personally, then. >> yeah. well, from my personal- i'll speak from personal experience. from personal experience, i find that i have to really depend mostly upon my ability to think
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and make accurate decisions or sound judgments, etc. i find that for my own life, for my own peace of mind, i have to depend upon my mental abilities more than my heart or my emotional nature, my love for things. and i think the american people- not just black people- but american people tend to have this big, this great love for everything, you know, and a great love for people and a great love for god. and sometimes this love for god, to me, is kind of, i would say, alcoholic- >> addiction. >> alcoholic, yeah. yeah, it's got too much alcohol in it, you know. >> we've heard that before, yeah. >> yeah. so this seems to be the problem. and i think we who have come to a new idea of islam, what the
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nation of islam did for us is those who survived, it made us want to understand a thing before we accept it. so i didn't get islam from saudi arabia- i had plenty pakistani friends; i got one here, i think muhude is taking pictures, and he's the camera- the graphics man and camera man for our journal, the muslim journal. and those people, they know the world of islam, they know the tradition. and i love to listen to them talk and everything, but i'm trying to digest everything with my own mind, with my own good senses, you know, i'm trying to digest everything. so i've come to my perception of islam, and the course of the nation of islam- making me curious, making me skeptical, etc., you know. so i think in a way, god helped us in a strange way, and god does that sometimes- in a strange way, we've been helped. so i don't buy the religion that somebody's offering me from
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egypt or saudi arabia and everything, you see? and because of that now, i'm looking at my obligations to god very much like dr. salam sees it- that i'm obligated to live a full life. and i can't dismiss science or history- i have to appreciate history, i have to appreciate science, and i have to find the truth in all of these things. and that's the way i feel about it, and i feel that we need to do more thinking when it comes to trying to live as families and trying to have community life, neighborhood life. we need to do more thinking and have less emotions involved, and do more thinking, and more planning for our future, with a new perception of the human being that we have in our religion islam. god gives us a perception of the human being, and the human being
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is focused, in our religion, firstly as an intellect- as an intellect. god says he made adam, and he taught adam the names of everything, and then he said to adam, he said, "tell the angels their names." he said, first he asked the angels to- "tell me your names." and they said, "we know nothing except what you've given us, god." and he said, "adam, tell them their names," and adam told them their names. so this is how the story of adam begins with us. >> with the intellect. >> intellect, with the intellect. and later, he becomes the father of the social families. >> good point. you see that, the social family? do you see how the doctrine plays out on the ethical plain and then comes back and impacts on the society- how we behave? >> certainly. certainly. and as we develop our minds with the right perception of our identity as intellect and social creatures in the family of mankind, i think we can be successful in restoring the family, black families that have
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fallen, and black neighborhoods, especially that's in bad repair- we can do a lot of good. but we have to first see clearly, perceive correctly, and we can't do it with a lot of emotions. >> real good point, because in all these turmoils, it's emotions that often get in the way. anita, and then let me get jamie. oh, i forgot you susanna. go ahead, anita. >> the pilgrimage to mecca, is it required of the religion, or does the qur'an state that it's necessary, a command of allah? >> i'm not hearing you very clearly, and it's because my daughter says, "daddy, you need a hearing aid." >> i can help. >> well, thank you. >> the pilgrimage to mecca, is it required by the religion, islam as a religion, or the nation of islam as a religion, or does the qur'an state that it's the command, or a command of allah for this pilgrimage to take place? >> yes. the pilgrimage to mecca
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is the fifth pillar of islam, or the fifth essential principle of islam. it's been interpreted by scholars, and i think most of the learned people in islam will agree with this meaning. it's the pillar of- it's the fifth pillar, and it's the pillar of the unity of humanity, the unity of mankind- the unity of mankind. and god orders us to make pilgrimage once in our lifetime if we have the ability, the health and the ability or the means, the financial means also- we are obligated to do that. the nation of islam has not required their members to do that as of yet, i don't think. but i think the nation of islam under minister farrakhan- i must say now that i think the nation of islam, in terms of coming closer to the real world, coming out of myth, into the real world- the nation of islam under farrakhan has made progress.
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and also, there's progress for, i think, their meeting with real islam. >> okay. so you're seeing some- the disparate or the separation is getting closer, then? >> yes, i think so. i think so. in fact, i think they're going to have to go through the same experience that i and those who came with me went through. yeah, they're just going to have- they're going to take more time doing it. >> yeah. it's that doctrinal wrestle, yeah. susanna, i'll let you jump in. >> and there will still be some believing in the old way, now- they're not going away. but their numbers will decrease and decrease as time marches on. >> you know, i love what you said about- you know, people have to make their own decision. i don't know if you heard that anecdote i opened with, but the young woman in my intro class who objected to a traditional islamic prayer- in fact, it was dr. assi up at
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the american islamic college- well, i think she was just thinking with her own mind. i mean, she saw islam in the way that she saw it and it was farrakhan and she was going to tell that whole class, you know, there it was. >> but i believe in that- let everybody be free to find their way, you know? >> yes. she taught me a lesson. susanna, go ahead. >> and it does, and it sounds like probably all the other great religions, including christianity and even catholicism, where you think, you have a stereotype of who that is for islam, too, but there's a wide diversity within each of these families. but i still believe we're all a lot more alike than we are different. >> that's true. that's my line. yes. >> right. and what i'm trying to piece together, too, is here was islam, and then came elijah muhammad and the man before him, and that became more of a black islam? was that the same as-
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>> no, that wasn't the first time though. there's a man- drew ali- noble, they call him noble drew ali- he started the north american movement. they identified as muslims. they identified also as moors- descendants of moors, from the moors. that's why- that explains the name moorish america. and they had, too, a lot of symbolism and myth rather than the real islam. so he came maybe eight or ten years earlier than farad, this man named farad, wallace d. farad. >> and then there was the movement toward the black ideology, which was- >> yeah, but the nation of islam, you're correct. it was the nation of islam that really came out openly and made religion black, made it the black man's religion and not the white man's religion- made god black and the religion black. but there was hints of this from
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a christian- in detroit also- a very big christian minister. oh, what's his name? he said he was god- the man who said he was god, and his white- >> father divine? >> father divine. thank you. thank you. thank you. i'm sorry i couldn't get that right away. father divine, he taught his people that god was a black man. and he was before farad, he was teaching before farad. i think farad- oh, i didn't finish my explanation on- much earlier, you lost patience and the time was running out; i could understand it, i didn't try to finish it. but now, if you don't mind, i'll finish it. >> oh, please. >> yeah. what i was wanting to say about farad is that his idea was really a scheme- a scheme, a plot, a trick- to get us to believe that we were getting a
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legitimate religion, and to hold us with that until we become more literate and understand reality better, more intellectually curious, and that we would see the ridiculousness- he intentionally made his religion very ridiculousness- that we would see the ridiculousness, and we would say, "oh, this can't be. but why would this man do this?" and the smarter ones would say, "oh, this was a scheme to get us out of that condition, into a new situation where we could make our own decisions- at least take us from there, and free us from that condition, and put us in a situation where we could make our own decision." that's what his plot was. i believe the man was very sincere, very innocent, and i think he thought that america deserved what he was doing to us. of course, at that time, we had jim crow south, you know- we still had a jim crow south at that time. yeah. >> you see, that's what i mean by empowerment- he had to empower the african-americans so
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that they could then make the decisions. i understand that. >> this other step that you are taking, where you differ from your father and the others, is this then- it doesn't seem to me, from what i'm hearing, that this is actually a swing back, if you wanted to call it that, toward original islam doctrine and so forth, as it is a moving forward into maybe another arena. am i on track with that, or- >> well, yes. to me, the change is a moving forward into real islam, but it is also a moving forward into the world of reality. and i don't think the qur'an, or the religion given to us as given by- as it is preached by muslims of the world could have brought about this change in me, or in many of those like me- i don't think it could have done it.
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it took what that man did, it took his trick to break the grip of what we thought the world was, what we thought white people were, what we thought the church was, to break the grip of that on us, and free us so we could make independent decisions. i think that's what opened the future for us, more than anything else. and believe me, it's the beautiful ideas in this country's, i would say, faith in democracy, in freedom, in god- in god too- the beautiful idea of american society also has impressed me. and the more i studied my religion and studied the history of america- founding father, civics, etc., the political ideas and how this country was developed- the more i studied that, the more i saw that the religion and the ideas of our
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founding fathers is very compatible- very compatible. yeah. so the more i saw that, the more it freed me to embrace the american idea. so no preaching from our side could have done that for me. >> i just have one more aspect that's rattling around here, and that is- i'm following what you're saying all along here- that i'm hearkening back to the last class. the first roll-in that we had, they spoke of how the men went to the synagogue and the women prayed at home. and the one we saw today, i'll get to them- oh, dear. yes, to the mosque, and i apologize- when they went to the mosque and the women stayed at home. and what we saw today was the women were at the mosque too. now they were separated- the men were apparently over here and the women were someplace else- but they were all at the mosque. in line with what many faith houses are doing now- and i
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guess i was being at the synagogue because i was getting ahead of myself. i went to a seder, an open seder this past december, and the rabbi made the statement after we should take the prayer books- the haggadahs- with us, because they were getting new ones, and they were going to not only just mention the patriarchs at this point, every time the patriarchs are mentioned, the matriarchs were also going to be mentioned. so that's sort of a roundabout way to ask, in islam, is there some such movement? are women coming into parity with men in this faith home? and in your particular, you know, kind of islam, is this true? is this happening also? >> yes. well, again, we look at the real worth of a human person with the intellect and focus and the moral life- the intellect and the moral life is the most important focus for us.
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and in terms of the moral life and intellect, according to our religion, male and female are one creation- one creation. that's why prophet muhammad insisted that the women be free to be educated, and he gave an incentive- he said if any father would see that two of his daughters are educated, god will give him a paradise. this is in the most popular records of what he did, what prophet muhammad said and did, the records of buhali and muslim- buhali and muslim, e havis- the sayings of the prophet buhali and muslim. and those volumes, you'll find that, where the prophet said that. and this is religion, so i can talk to you a little differently than i talk to the public, and in our holy book, the qur'an, as you know, the qur'an, god says he made
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you from one single nefs, and this nefs does not necessarily mean male or female- nefs does t have to mn male or female. soe made you from one single nefs, and they translate nefs in the arabic dictionaries or whatever meaning person, self, soul- soul- personality, taking all- the whole person, seen as the personality of that person. so this is the nefs- the soul- it comes from the soul; originally, it meant soul. so he made male and female from one soul- from one soul. and it says that- yes- and in the same book, he says, "the believing"- given the distinction between the two- "and the believing men and the believing women"- then it says, "- and the thinking men and the thinking women"- puts them side
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by side, that women are believers like men, and women are thinkers like men. so it's very clear to me, in our holy book, that god created the intellect- one- for male and female, created the soul, the human soul- one- for male and female, the intellect- one- for male and female. the difference is in physiology, and again, the qur'an makes that plain. it says, "and the men are responsible for women, because of their superior physique and their massive wealth." it didn't say because of intellect or because of some special soul, because they're both the same- humanly, they're the same. >> folks, we've got about one minute, believe it or not. >> and they didn't teach me that from overseas. >> thinking for yourself is the main lesson in this class, i'm telling you. jamie, let me let you- you've had your finger up here the whole time. we've got about a minute,
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unfortunately. >> u.s. news and world report for july 20th lists you as the most influential muslim leader- black, white, or asian. with that kind of leadership, do you expect louis farrakhan to begin to modify his stance, and if so, in what specific areas? >> well, let me say first that most of farrakhan's people and those that he attracts, they don't believe what the u.s. news and world report says. [laughter] >> hey, take it if you get it, right? >> but i do know that minister farrakhan- now i'll share this with you too. we used to be very good friends- i used to go to his home and he used to play violin; we used to laugh and joke and talk. i enjoyed his family, he enjoyed my family. so when we separated, we lost something, we missed something, and we still miss something- we miss this personal friendship we used to have. so he is really watching every step i make, and believe me, i am influencing what he's doing- in a good way,
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in a positive way. >> well, maybe he will be, but for now, we've run out of time. i want to thank you so much focoming. >> thank you, mr. simmons.
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